According to Michigan compiled law 750.84 the offense of Assault with Intent to do Great Bodily Harm less than Murder (also known as assault GBH) is a felony offense that carries a potential punishment of up to 10 years in prison, or a fine of not more than $5,000, or both. It is a very serious offense that often results in a prison sentence.
What actually constitutes Assault GBH? According to People v. Stevens, 306 Mich App 620 (2014) n order to be convicted of this offense at trial, the prosecution must prove 2 elements beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) an attempt or threat with force or violence to do corporal harm to another (an assault), and (2) an intent to do great bodily harm less than murder.
What does great bodily harm mean? The element of intent to do great bodily harm is defined by People v. Brown, 267 Mich App 141 (2005) as an intent to do serious injury of an aggravated nature. According to Michigan Criminal Jury Instruction 17.7 great bodily harm means any physical injury that could seriously harm the health or a function of the body.
How is intent to do great bodily harm established at trial? Sometimes it is on the basis of circumstantial evidence (See People v Harverson, 291 Mich App 171 (2010)). Circumstantial evidence are inferences that connect to support a fact, such as fingerprint evidence being used to support a individual being at the scene where a crime took place along with a recovered weapon and a victim with a serious injury. In some cases the intent to cause serious harm can be inferred from the defendant’s actions, including the use of a dangerous weapon or the making of threats (See People v Parcha, 227 Mich App 236 (1997). According to Michigan Criminal Jury Instruction 17.7 actual injury does not need to occur, but the presence of an injury is something that can be used in deciding what the Defendant’s intent was. In short, great defense work means doing everything possible to dispute the accusations made by a complainant, law enforcement, and/or the prosecution.
Potential defenses. Often with cases of Assault GBH the main issue is the intent of the Defendant. In many cases the Defense lawyer can request lessor charges to be considered by the jury when making their decision. Assault GBH is actually a lessor offense of the crime of Assault with Intent to murder. There are other potential defenses to Assault GBH, which included (but is not limited to): identity; lack of intent; self defense; defense of others; insanity; and reasonable doubt. Only a skilled defense attorney who can fully review the case can give you an accurate opinion of what defense may be applicable to your case.
The first step whenever there is an investigation concerning Assault with Intent to Cause Great Bodily Harm is to hire an experienced lawyer, such as attorney Daniel Hilf of Hilf & Hilf, PLC. Such an accusation can lead to both criminal law consequences and a civil lawsuit. Criminal law consequences can include incarceration; civil law consequences can be significant award of money damages. Both the criminal law consequences and civil consequences can have law changing effects on an individual.